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CDC Issues Health Advisory about Recognizing, Managing, and Reporting Zika Virus Infections

CDC Issues Health Advisory about Recognizing, Managing, and Reporting Zika Virus Infections

In May 2015, the World Health Organization reported the first local transmission of Zika virus in the Western Hemisphere, with locally acquired cases identified in Brazil. As of January 15, 2016, local transmission had been identified in at least 14 countries or territories in the Americas, including Puerto Rico.  The CDC believes that spread to other countries in the region is likely.

Local transmission of Zika virus has not been documented in the continental United States. However, Zika virus infections have been reported in travelers returning to the United States. With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika virus disease cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States likely will increase. These imported cases may result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the continental United States, meaning these imported cases may result in human-to-mosquito-to-human spread of the virus.

Zika virus infection should be considered in patients with:

  • Acute onset of fever
  • Maculopapular rash
  • Arthralgia
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Recent travel to areas with ongoing transmission in the two weeks prior to illness onset.

Clinical disease usually is mild. However, during the current outbreak, Zika virus infections have been confirmed in several infants with microcephaly and in fetal losses in women infected during pregnancy. The CDC report that they do not yet understand the full spectrum of outcomes that might be associated with infection during pregnancy, nor the factors that might increase risk to the fetus. Additional studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

Healthcare providers are encouraged to report suspected Zika virus disease cases to their state health department to facilitate diagnosis and to mitigate the risk of local transmission. State health departments are requested to report laboratory-confirmed cases to CDC. The CDC is working with states to expand Zika virus laboratory testing capacity, using existing RT-PCR protocols.

Until more is known and out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to these areas should talk to their doctors or other healthcare providers first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare providers before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

Additional resources include:

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